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WOUNDED BIRD



Faith is not certainty so much as it is acting-as-if in great hope.



Updated: 2018-02-20T16:22:24.107-06:00

 



AT THE MOVIES IN MY HOUSE IN JANUARY 2018

2018-02-05T15:55:11.149-06:00

A list of movies I watched recently and recommend, along with brief descriptions, is below."Funny Face" - rated 4 starsThough "Funny Face", directed by Stanley Donen, was very good, I thought it would be better. What struck me as I watched again after a long time is that once again, the male lead, Fred Astaire, was nearly 30 years older than the female, Audrey Hepburn. Astaire is still amazing, but it appears Hollywood assumes female dancers of similar age can no longer dance."The Artist" - rated 5 starsI watched the movie last night and loved it. The film, directed by Michel Hazanavicius, won a number of Academy Awards and other well-deserved film awards in 2012. The French romantic, feel-good, silent movie in black and white, like the olden times, even before my olden time, is a delight. In the French style, with subtle and ironic touches of humor, the film includes musical accompaniment and what I just learned are called intertitles (filmed, printed text edited into silent movies) when necessary. Since the expressions and movements of the actors reveal quite a bit, not many intertitles were necessary. Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo star in the film, with our own John Goodman in a strong supporting role."Loving" - rated 5 starsThe movie, directed by Jeff Nichols, tells the tender, moving story of the long, painful period in the lives of Mildred and Richard Loving, played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, an interracial couple who married in Washington DC, but could not, by law, be married in their home State of Virginia. After living in DC for a while, the Lovings moved back to Virginia but lived in constant fear of arrest. Mildred decided to write a letter to Attorney General RFK about their plight, and he referred them to the ACLU. When the two were arrested, the ACLU defended them and took their case to the Supreme Court. The rest is history in Loving V. Virginia, the ruling that overturned miscegenation laws in the entire country."Room" - rated 5 stars"Room", directed by Lenny Abrahamson, is the story of a young woman who was abducted and held in a shed for 7 years during which time she is sexually abused and gives birth to a boy she calls Jack. After 5 years, she begins to plot their escape. The film was difficult to watch, so much so that I had to stop and take a break, but I recommend it highly. "Moonlight" was the same, but I have the film in my queue to watch again. I'll do the same with "Room". Brie Larson stars as the mother, and she is excellent in the role, but the truly amazing performance is the boy's, with Jacob Tremblay as Jack.[...]



DID TRUMP SAY "SHITHOLE COUNTRIES" OR "SHITHOUSE COUNTRIES"? DOES IT MATTER?

2018-01-16T13:53:14.262-06:00

Senators Perdue and CottonAs you may or may not know, Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) at first stated they "do not recall" Trump using the term "shithole countries" during the bipartisan immigration meeting in the White House. After recovering their memories, the two senators disputed the leaked information by stating that Trump said "shithouse countries" rather than "shithole countries".After the first leak about Trump's comments, Sen Richard Durbin (D-IL), who was not the original leaker, stated that Trump did indeed use the term "shithole countries", and Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) confirmed Durbin's account.Sen Richard DurbinWhy Cotton and Perdue continue to choose to split the hair between "shithole" and "shithouse" to deny what Trump said is a mystery to me. Do the senators believe the term "shithouse countries" is acceptable? Their denials are ludicrous. Anyone with a functional brain knows the two are lying.The shell of the State Department that remains under Rex Tillerson and the Trump maladministration is left to deal with the wreckage of the blowback as US ambassadors and diplomats around the world are summoned to explain Trump's comments.That's not to mention that Trump, who brags often about his love and support of the military, made reckless comments that endanger members of the US military who serve in the "shithole countries".The latest tweet from Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News:For what its worth, here's new spin from source very close to WH: When Trump said "shit house" countries (not "shit hole") at immigration meeting, he was actually thinking about real estate.You can't make this shit up. I detect a ring of truth in the latest spin, at least the real estate part, because making money from real estate is never far from Trump's mind.UPDATE: It gets worse according to the Washington Post. Read it all for an insider view of how Chief of Staff John Kelly operates. He's not the man who will save America from Trump.But some White House officials, including conservative adviser Stephen Miller, feared that Graham and Durbin would try to trick Trump into signing a bill that was damaging to him and would hurt him with his political base. As word trickled out Thursday morning on Capitol Hill that Durbin and Graham were heading over to the White House, legislative affairs director Marc Short began to make calls to lawmakers and shared many of Miller’s concerns.Soon, Goodlatte, one of the more conservative House members on immigration, was headed to the White House. Trump also called House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and asked him to come, McCarthy said. Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Cotton were also invited to rush over.[...]



MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR - "REMAINING AWAKE THROUGH A REVOLUTION"

2018-01-15T11:06:15.098-06:00

Icon of MLK by Tobias HallerFrom Martin Luther King's speech at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, four days before he was assassinated nearly a half century ago. Reposted from eight years ago.ON WAR: Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.ON RACISM: The hour has come for everybody, for all institutions of the public sector and the private sector to work to get rid of racism. And now if we are to do it we must honestly admit certain things and get rid of certain myths that have constantly been disseminated all over our nation.One is the myth of time. It is the notion that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice. And there are those who often sincerely say to the Negro and his allies in the white community, "Why don’t you slow up? Stop pushing things so fast. Only time can solve the problem. And if you will just be nice and patient and continue to pray, in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out."There is an answer to that myth. It is that time is neutral. It can be used wither constructively or destructively. And I am sorry to say this morning that I am absolutely convinced that the forces of ill will in our nation, the extreme rightists of our nation—the people on the wrong side—have used time much more effectively than the forces of goodwill. And it may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, "Wait on time."ON POVERTY:There is another thing closely related to racism that I would like to mention as another challenge. We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry tonight. They are ill-housed; they are ill-nourished; they are shabbily clad. I’ve seen it in Latin America; I’ve seen it in Africa; I’ve seen this poverty in Asia. .... Not only do we see poverty abroad, I would remind you that in our own nation there are about forty million people who are poverty-stricken. I have seen them here and there. I have seen them in the ghettos of the North; I have seen them in the rural areas of the South; I have seen them in Appalachia. I have just been in the process of touring many areas of our country and I must confess that in some situations I have literally found myself crying.....And this can happen to America, the richest nation in the world—and nothing’s wrong with that—this is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.In a few weeks some of us are coming to Washington to see if the will is still alive or if it is alive in this nation. We are coming to Washington in a Poor People’s Campaign. Yes, we are going to bring the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. We are going to bring those who have known long years of hurt and neglect. We are going to bring those who have co[...]



GLENN SIMPSON, CHRISTOPHER STEELE, AND THE SHAMEFUL GOP EFFORT TO PROTECT UNFIT-FOR-OFFICE TRUMP

2018-01-11T13:17:59.731-06:00

Glenn SimpsonFor the last couple of days, with interruptions to attend to the tasks of ordinary life, I've been reading the 312 pages of Glenn Simpson's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Simpson, a former reporter, most recently for The Wall Street Journal (2009), is one of the founders of Fusion GPS, which has been much in the news lately. I found the testimony gripping and Simpson to be a cooperative and honest witness.I doubt I'll enjoy reading Michael Woolff's Fire and Fury as much as Simpson's testimony, but we'll see. I ordered the book only after Trump's lawyers sent the "cease and desist" publication order to Wolff and his publisher because I felt I ought to support free speech against prior restraint.Christopher SteeleNo wonder Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both members of the Judiciary Committee, Grassley as chair, didn't want the transcript released. It destroys their narrative about Simpson's testimony that led them to refer Christopher Steele, the author of the famous dossier (really a collection of memos) alleging ties between President Trump and Russia, for a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.Can you believe it? Of course, you can. No good deed goes unpunished in the shameful GOP effort to protect the man-child president who has shown himself unfit for office from the day of his inauguration.From the Washington Post:Fusion in 2015 began investigating Trump under a contract with the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website financially supported by GOP megadonor Paul Singer. That assignment ended once Trump was on track to win the nomination. But in April 2016, Fusion was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to keep funding the research.Fusion GPS was first hired by Republicans and then transitioned to work for the Clinton campaign when Trump became the GOP nominee. During the course of his work, Simpson hired Steele, whom he had known and trusted for years since his work as a reporter, as a source of information. Steele is a British citizen and former MI6 intelligence agent, a Russian expert who has provided credible and reliable intelligence to US intelligence agencies and to Simpson for years.Both men became alarmed at the information they discovered about Trump and the people who worked in his campaign. Steele felt conscience-bound to report his findings about people in the Trump campaign with Russian connections to the FBI. By warning the FBI , Steele, a British citizen, demonstrated more care and concern for the safety and security of America than sitting US senators Grassley or Graham.Sen Diane FeinsteinSen Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is my current hero in the Senate for her decision to release the transcripts because of the characterization of Simpson as an uncooperative witness, which is a lie, and because of lies about his testimony.Here's the link to further information about Christopher Steele in the Washington Post.To read the entire transcript of Simpson's testimony, click here.[...]



WINTER POEM

2017-12-18T16:55:29.456-06:00

WINTER POEM

The bleak winter landscape,
Brushed with faint color
Slips slowly into twilight,

Bodes an ending, conveys
A sadness for dying things,
Weighs on the heart.



VENGEANCE AS POLITICS

2017-10-13T15:01:41.023-05:00

From Diana Butler Bass on Facebook:
Dear Friends,

It is important that we remember the actions of these days and learn.


This is what it looks like when angry white people use a "democratic" process to wipe the memory and achievement of an honorable and successful black man from history. The drive to do away with him is so powerful that the "base" is willing to sacrifice their own to a life of no access to health care and potentially destroy the entire planet.

This is what it looks like when vengeance is the primary purpose of politics.

Do not forget these days. Because they are, for many, the opportunity to see what they never saw. The evil of the days can serve to awaken. Even after "he" is no longer president. Because until we deal with the depth of race and hierarchies and violence, this will continue.

Today, take a moment and be grateful for those who see clearly, who work with heart and passion for renewed practices of inclusion and true democracy in this, our national home.

I invite you to name some of those people here. Those who embody joy and justice in the midst of all of this.

Yours, Diana
Bass speaks truth with eloquence. The first names that come to mind are Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama. The inclusion of "joy" makes it more difficult to think of others, but the word belongs. Gratitude is quite often difficult for me, but Bass is right to include the word "grateful" in her letter.



TRUMP'S PHONY PRAISE OF THE MILITARY

2017-08-24T13:28:07.560-05:00

Don't believe Trump's bullshit praise of men and women who serve in the military. Trump showed his disrespect for members of the military who have put their lives on the line to serve their country back in June when he blocked the the VoteVets.org group on Twitter. For the small-minded president to attempt to silence a progressive veterans group to preserve his fragile ego shows once again his complete lack of principles and moral core.


Trump's policy-by-tweet banning transgender people from serving in the military, which surprised even the Pentagon, is one more example of his disdain. What are the tens of thousands of transgender members now faithfully serving to think? What will happen to them?


From Trump's speech on the way forward in Afghanistan.

Trump: The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all.

(Especially when the wound is inflicted by the president)

Trump: When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.

(Except for transgender people)

Trump: Our actions, and in months to come, all of them will honor the sacrifice of every fallen hero, every family who lost a loved one, and every wounded warrior who shed their blood in defense of our great nation. 

(Except for Capt. Humayan Khan and his family and wounded warriors in VoteVets)

Trump: We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls, and everlasting pride in each and every one of you. 

(Who do you mean "we", Mr President?)

I could go on and on about Trump's nothing speech, delivered in prime TV time, but I won't. I simply want to make my point about his lack of respect for those who serve or who have served in the military.

As far as I can tell, the purpose of the speech was to distract from the fallout from Trump's words about the "very fine people" in the neo-Nazi, white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Mueller's Russian investigation, and various other "challenges" that the president faces.



ABOUT CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS - ROBERT E LEE IN HIS OWN WORDS

2017-08-22T13:46:04.059-05:00

(image)
Robert E Lee statue removed in New Orleans
In the midst of protests and controversies about taking down Confederate statues and monuments, seemingly enlightened people state that we judge Robert E Lee too harshly, that he was a complex man who is considered by many to be a person of honor and rectitude.  That may well be, but he led an army of rebellion against the United States to preserve an institution that he himself labeled a moral & political evil.

In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages.I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.

Robert E Lee's letter to his wife.

How unfortunate that Lee didn't follow his better instincts and side with those who opposed slavery.

Further, after the war ended, Lee expressed his opposition to Confederate monuments when he received letters asking his support for erecting a statue of Stonewall Jackson:

As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that, however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt, in the present condition of the country, would have the effect of retarding instead of accelerating its accomplishment, and of continuing if not adding to the difficulties under which the Southern people labor.

Yes, Lee was a complex man, but, according to the general himself, the country would be a far better place without Confederate monuments.

Picture from Wikipedia.



"FAWLTY TOWERS"

2017-08-06T20:13:47.273-05:00

Since I'm trying to simplify and clear out some of my stuff, I went against my rules when I bought the DVD of the two seasons of Fawlty Towers. I have the video, but what good is it without a video player? What can I say? I missed the gang at FT, which I think is the funniest TV series ever. FT never disappoints and always rewards with belly laughs and "I'd better take a pee break" moments.

Somehow, I thought there were more than two seasons, but I was mistaken. I love Monty Python, but it's more intellectual than FT, and, apparently, farce and pratfall humor strikes my funny bone the hardest.

I may have a bit of Basil in me. My filters control my Basil most of the time, but sometimes he slips out. I can think of several moments when the filters failed me. He is such a snob that he deserves everything he gets, but, in the end, I feel for him anyway.

The DVD includes interviews with the writers, actors, and director of the series. The character of Basil is based on a the owner of a hotel where the cast stayed during the filming of Monty Python.



"SUNSET SONG" - THE MOVIE

2017-08-02T14:22:13.887-05:00

Last week I watched "Sunset Song", one of the saddest movies I've seen recently. Directed by Terence Davies, the film is set in the period just before and during WWI on a farm in northeast Scotland. Chris Guthrie, a bright young girl's whose dreams of going to teachers college are shattered when, after her mother bears numerous children, she commits suicide and kills her two youngest twin boys when she discovers she's pregnant again.

When Chris is left with her father, a brutal man, and her older brother, Will, after relatives take the younger children to live with them, she gives up her dream of teachers college to care for the household. For minor infractions, John, the father, takes the horsewhip to Will, and Will finally saves enough money to leave the farm and marry. Chris is left alone with her father.

The mood is dark and somber throughout the movie, except for a brief interlude of happiness after John dies of a stroke, and Chris marries Ewan, an amiable young man who lives nearby. Ewan reluctantly volunteers for the Scots Guards after war is declared and goes off to training. When he comes home on leave before being shipped to fight in France, he's drunk and brutal with Chris in the sight of their young son. Chris does not understand what's happening with Ewan, but she stands up to him when he shows sings of becoming violent, like her father.

When Ewan turns brutal, which we learn later is from stress about going into the fight in which thousands upon thousands have already died, I thought, "Oh! I've seen this movie before," and I debated whether to continue watching a replay of Chris living with another violent man. I decided to go ahead, and the dark mood continued, till weak hope is offered toward the end of the film by Chris' oneness with the land.

The stunning cinematography, which redeems somewhat the sadness of the movie, is by Michael McDonough. Northeast Scotland is gorgeous, and McDonough takes full advantage as he moves the camera slowly and lingeringly on the beautiful scenes. Indoor scenes are poorly lighted, as were the farmhouses at the time, and the camera again moves slowly. The light and shade in certain scenes resembles lovely paintings, and I was grateful again for the lingering camera.

The soundtrack by Gast Waltzing is very much in tune with the sadness of the movie and deserves credit.

I was going to post the video of the trailer for the film, but I think it gives away too much. It's on YouTube if you'd like to see it.



MAN-CHILD PRESIDENT TRUMP LEAVES DESTRUCTION IN HIS WAKE

2017-05-29T12:37:55.628-05:00


In just a few days, our jackass president destroyed decades-old relationships with our former friends in Europe. The man-child who promised to make America great again rides in a cart, as other world leaders walk, even as he should be pulling a cart. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is now the de facto leader of the free world, made it plain that Europe can no longer trust the US for cooperation and support. If European intelligence agencies obtain information about a terrorist attack in this country, will they share with us? What if they fear compromising agents in the field? Who could blame them if they didn't?

Even Trump's generals, whom I quite mistakenly believed might be the semi-sane people in the chaotic Trump maladministration, defend White House connections with Putin's Russia. In a world turned upside down, our allies now seem to be Russia and other countries run by strong men, and we, the people, have no say as a supine GOP Congress allows Trump and his minions to turn the United States into a completely different country in four short months.

Republicans in Congress savor their return to power and the opportunity to throw people off health insurance to give tax cuts to the rich. Thus far, they've paid little to no attention to the results of Trump's destructive foreign policies (if you can call them that) and his disastrous travels around the world. When history tells the story of these times, the supine GOP Congress will be no less complicit than Trump and his minions in the tragic takeover of the country.



THE PSALMS - PSALM 70

2017-03-16T16:42:41.736-05:00

The psalms in the bible are older than a number of the various leaders of of the Jewish people to whom they are attributed, but, because the leaders prayed the psalms, their names, especially King David's, are linked to individual psalms. The psalms are true prayers of the people (and the leaders) in Judaism and Christianity.

Reading the psalms often gives me great comfort.  The words seem to have life and enter in and give me strength and encouragement on many a day.

Psalm 70 is one of the psalms assigned for today in the Lectionary.
Be pleased, O God, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let those who seek my life be ashamed
and altogether dismayed;
let those who take pleasure in my misfortune
draw back and be disgraced.
Let those who say to me "Aha!" and gloat over me turn back,
because they are ashamed.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
let those who love your salvation say for ever,
"Great is the Lord!"
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come to me speedily, O God.
You are my helper and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not tarry.
Image from Wikipedia.



IS TRUMP'S STATE DEPARTMENT IRRELEVANT?

2017-03-12T12:04:25.661-05:00

One week after Trump's inauguration, his administration told four top level career State Department managers that their services were no longer needed.  While it's true most presidents appoint their own people to top posts, they usually retain experienced employees through the transition period.

Since Trump appointed Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and Tillerson spent his entire career in the oil business and has no government or diplomatic experience, you'd think both men would want seasoned employees around for a while as he learns the ropes.  You'd be wrong.

Also, several reports indicate that Tillerson is excluded from Trump's inner circle.
More than a month after he became America’s top diplomat, Rex Tillerson is like no other modern secretary of State: He’s largely invisible.
Trump's proposed budget includes a 37 per cent cut to the State Department budget.  Is the State Department and its secretary no longer relevant in TrumpAmerica?  Or will the department become a subsidiary of Trump, Inc., with Trump remaining as CEO, and Tillerson's position as...?



BESIDES POLITICS - MIDDLEMARCH AND GRANTCHESTER

2017-03-09T12:39:50.922-06:00

When I take breaks from watching, reading, and commenting on politics, I'm watching the Middlemarch TV series on Netflix.  The series is well done, with the quibble that the story seems compressed and speeded up, which I suppose is necessary in translating a long novel to a TV series. Thus, Dorothea Brooke leaps rather quickly and jarringly into admiration for Edward Casaubon and acceptance of his proposal.  I remember more description and preparation for her fall in George Eliot's brilliant novel.

The account of her soul-crushing wrestle with Casaubon's "masterpiece" and his inferior character that led to the suppression of her own character and intelligence and the waste of her life seemed endless in the book.  I'll probably reread the novel, when I finish watching the series.

Also, I'm reading the Grantchester series of mystery stories by James Runcie, upon which the Grantchester TV series is based.  I've just about finished the third book in the series, and I've no doubt spoiled the suspense of some of the future episodes of the TV series, but I thoroughly enjoy the books, so I will continue to read.

Much of the dialogue in the TV series seems to have been taken directly from the books, which is all to the good.  I can't help but picture the characters in the stories as the actors in the series.



AT THE MOVIES IN MY HOUSE

2017-02-26T12:35:00.506-06:00

Gosford Park, directed by Robert Altman ("Nashville", "Mash") and written by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), includes a delightful all-star ensemble cast that includes the wonderful Maggie Smith.  The subject of the film could be described as a typical English country house murder mystery, except that it's not typical at all.  The story and dialogue move quickly, as is Altman's style, and calls for the viewer's close attention, so as not to miss the sharp wit and humorous asides in the conversations.  I've seen the film 3 times, and I want to see it again. I gave it the highest rating of 5 stars on Netflix.O Brother, Where Art Thou? is an early collaboration by Ethan and Joel Coen, the brothers who wrote and directed the movie and have gone on to further fame and fortune.  The film is a satire loosely based on  Homer's Odyssey and set in Mississippi during the Great Depression.  Three white convicts escape from a chain gang and pick up an African-American guitar player along the way.  Mayhem, suspense, and hilarity ensue, as the four try to keep ahead of the chase by members of law enforcement and citizen enforcement, including the KKK.  In trying to save their necks, by accident, the group becomes a famous radio band called The Soggy Bottom Boys. T Bone Burnett worked with the Coen brothers on the superb sound track as the movie was being written.  The music in the film consists mainly of American southern folk music, and the sound track won the Album of the Year Grammy award.  I rated this one 5 stars, too.As for My Dinner With André, if you enjoy dinner with a companion who is a monologist, who tells tales that make one wonder if any of them really happened, then you may enjoy the movie more than I did.  I thought, "Good heavens!  When will André allow Wally to get in a word or two, except, "Really?"The two actors, André Gregory and Wallace Shawn, who play themselves, have a certain charm, but a dinner companion would have to be a lot more engaging than André, for me to have patience with a monologue.  I gave this one 3 stars.Last, but most certainly not least, is the delightful Gigi. The list of talented people who worked in the film is amazing.  Vincent Minelli directed the movie.  The screenplay was written by Alan Jay Lerner, who also wrote the song lyrics.   Frederick Loewe composed the music. which was arranged and conducted by André Previn.The story is loosely based on a novella of the same name by the French writer, Colette, and is one of the few books I've read in the original French.  The movie is a charming romantic musical comedy set in turn-of-the century Paris.  The women in the family are brought up to be courtesans, and they don't marry.  As Aunt Alicia, who gives Gigi lessons for her future role, says, "Marriage is not forbidden to us, but instead of getting married at once, it sometimes happens we get married at last."The cast is listed below.Leslie Caron as Gilberte ("Gigi")Maurice Chevalier as Honoré LachailleLouis Jourdan as Gaston LachailleHermione Gingold as Madame AlvarezEva Gabor as Liane d'ExelmansIsabel Jeans as Aunt AliciaCostumes were designed by Cecil Beaton, and the cinematographer was Joseph Ruttenberg.  The scenes of Paris are gorgeously idealized, and they are a feast for the eye.  The movie won nine academy awards, including Best Picture.  5 stars for Gigi.In the past, I thought Louis Jordan was dreamily good-looking, but my taste changed over the years. It's not that Jourdan is not good-looking, but he's no longer my dream man.I remember with fondness H[...]



SENATOR BILL CASSIDY'S TOWN MEETING, THIBODAUX, LA

2017-05-06T16:06:22.485-05:00

Oooh, my back!  (I have spinal stenosis.)Through a heroic effort, I made it into the meeting and found a front row seat. Bill Cassidy arrived on time, and talked and talked, yada, yada, yada, running out the time of a one hour meeting. Here are my notes as I wrote them as I sat and listened.President O'Trump (He really said that) will spend 1 trillion on infrastructureTrump will bring back energy jobsTrump will bring back manufacturing jobsThe Dakota pipeline is good and will create many jobs in the USHe's talking too much. Get to the questionsCassidy talks too damned muchRunning out the clock, blah, blah, blahI sat patiently for a good while and was tired of wasting my time, so I started waving my hand. Cassidy paid no attention, so I shouted out, "Senator, you're talking too much. Listen to the people. Also, I have a question."He didn't get to me, and people were pointing to me and telling him to answer my question. He finally turned to me, and I asked:"Will you guarantee that your health care plan or whatever Republican health care plan you sign will cover everyone who is covered by Obamacare?   You are a doctor, and you took an oath to do no harm."He answered something like nearly everyone. I said, "That's no guarantee."Then he said, "What if people don't want coverage?"I said, "That's not what I mean, and you know it."Cassidy never got to the written questions that were handed in, so I'm glad I shouted out and didn't wait. He left promptly after an hour with a number of people still waiting to ask questions.Among the few questions and comments that time permitted, one man spoke of how Medicaid expansion helps hospitals that had to take losses in the emergency room before the program was implemented.In answer to a question that I could not hear, Cassidy said, among other things, that Jeff Sessions is an honorable man.  [Edit:] The question was from a woman wanted to know if Trump was Putin's puppet.  Jeff Sessions served on a Trump campaign committee, and, as Attorney General, prosecutors will be reporting to him during the inquiries looking into contacts between the campaign and Russia. Honorable or not, many think Sessions should recuse himself from inquiries into the campaign in which he had a role.Another asked about an independent investigation of Trump's Russian connections. Cassidy said he's very concerned about Russia, but he did not state he would support an independent, bipartisan investigation.Then, a woman asked about Trump's appointment of Pruitt as administrator of the EPA, who is on record as wanting to destroy the EPA. Cassidy said the EPA will not be destroyed.The crowd was not a rowdy bunch, but they were clearly annoyed by Cassidy hogging the time to speak.  I'm not good at crowd counting, but I'd guess there were a couple of hundred people sitting and standing. The people at the meeting appeared to be local people or from places nearby, and they asked intelligent and thoughtful questions. I doubt anyone in the crowd was bused in.I was briefly interviewed by the local paper, the Comet Courier, Fox 8, the New Orleans local station, and The Nation magazine.Update: Here's the link to my minute of fame with Bill Cassidy from Fox 8 news in New Orleans.[...]



ABOUT THE RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS AND MICHAEL FLYNN

2017-02-15T15:55:51.903-06:00

Just six days into his presidency, Donald Trump was informed his national security adviser had misled his vice president about contacts with Russia. Trump kept his No. 2 in the dark and waited nearly three weeks before ousting the aide, Michael Flynn, citing a slow but steady erosion of trust, White House officials said.Flynn was interviewed by the FBI about his telephone conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., a sign his ties to Russia had caught the attention of law enforcement officials.Though the WH had known about Flynn's discussions with the Russians since January 26, when they were informed by acting-AG Sally Yates and another official that he was vulnerable to blackmail, no one bothered to inform Pence.  Yet he was sent out to defend Flynn publicly in a TV interview and declare the conversations about sanctions had not happened. Pence, who had vouched for Flynn in a televised interview, is said to have been angry and deeply frustrated.How many ways to say out of the loop?  Team Trump humiliated Pence, and now he is angry.  Still, I expect he's not angry enough to resign his potted plant position in the Trump maladministration, because he is the gentleman-in-waiting should something go wrong.According to the "retelling" from the White House, Flynn had done nothing illegal, but his downfall came because he lied to WH officials. Why was the erosion of trust in Flynn "slow and steady"?  Trump values loyalty above all.  It seems not to matter if his close advisers do not know what the hell they are doing or whether they tell the truth.  Why would truth matter when the boss lies repeatedly? Thus, loyalty trumps everything else, even if the result is chaos and certain staff members are thrown under the bus.What about Kellyanne Conway?  What did she know, and when did she know it?  Conway is the most visible of Trump's loyal supporters defending him on TV.  Is she out of the loop, too?  A couple of hours before the information about Flynn's "resignation", she said the security adviser had Trump's "full confidence".If you'd like to walk through the looking glass with Matt Lauer and his interview with Kellyanne Conway this morning, you may or may not find the answer to the question about whether she was out of the loop.I confess that I was dizzy, rather than enlightened by the walk, but that's just me.Here's the video of the interview. Conway's ability to remain upright through this long spin is amazing. width="420" height="236" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/57y5cOOmX64" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>[...]



ABOUT THE RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS

2017-02-13T12:16:43.281-06:00

What did Donald Trump know, and when did he know about Mike Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador?What did Mike Pence know, and when did he know it?When will the investigations of the Russian connections begin? Congress? Congress?When will Mike Flynn be fired or step down? Will Flynn go quietly? Was he following orders? Whose orders?That's not to mention Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, conspiracy theorist, and general menace who should be nowhere near the White House. Bannon also has Russian connections.“Steve Bannon, who is the leader of alt-right remember, he runs the alt-right media arm, which is the white supremacist, neo-Nazi arm of the conservative movement,” [Malcolm] Nance said. “He is a believer in what is called Duginism. There’s a guy, Alexander Dugin … He is a Russian that is sort of the Rasputin of the anti-democratic movement in eastern Europe that hates the liberal elite.”The analyst believes Bannon is setting the strategy for the White House. He told host Joy Reid that Bannon was ultimately attempting to push for Eurasianism, which would “align the United States and Russia together in a Christian war against Islam.”Nance, who comments frequently on MSNBC, is "a retired United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in naval cryptology and author, scholar and media commentator on international terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture." (Wikipedia)And what about Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobile, now Secretary of State, and his previous lobbying against Russian oil sanctions, which he claims was not lobbying?“I have never lobbied against sanctions,” Tillerson said. “To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions.”This seems hard to believe. Indeed, after the second line, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the committee, interjected: "I think you called me at the time [Russia sanctions were being debated]," he said. The public record backs him up: There is abundant and clear evidence that Exxon did lobby on sanctions under Tillerson’s leadership.....“In your mind, calling a United States senator to express your belief that sanctions are not effective is not lobbying,”[Sen. Chris] Murphy said. “In my view, that is a distinction without a difference.”If the Pandora's box of Russian connections between Trump's cabinet and staff is ever opened, much will be revealed. [...]



DEAR PRESIDENT TRUMP

2017-02-09T13:48:19.401-06:00

Dear President Trump,

I hope you have a Big League Valentine's Day.  Maybe the day when we celebrate love will inspire you to move away from bullying people and businesses.  You said you would be president for all the people in America, but you have not keep your word.  You incite fear and hatred and pit one group against another in a way that causes greater division in the country.

Keep in mind that Nordstorm is an American company that provides 85,000 jobs in the United States.  How does attacking an American business because they dropped your daughter's clothing line promote job creation?  I thought you and Ivanka were out of the businesses, so why do you care?  Is there a conflict of interest here?

Also, perhaps you might consider the duties and responsibilities of your position in the Oval Office a priority over tweets.  When you tweet, remember facts always trump "alternate facts", because, if you tell the truth, you have to remember only the one thing, while "alternate facts" are all over the place and hard to keep straight in your mind.

Note that I did not address you as the so-called president, even though you lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million.  You are the real president, just as James Robart is a real judge.  However the Ninth Circuit Court judges rule in the executive order travel ban, they will be real judges, too.

Cheers,

June Butler

Note: I will send the home-made valentine to Trump via snail mail.



WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?

2017-02-08T15:23:26.299-06:00

The New Yorker:
Fom 2003 to 2005, Gina Haspel was a senior official overseeing a top-secret C.I.A. program that subjected dozens of suspected terrorists to savage interrogations, which included depriving them of sleep, squeezing them into coffins, and forcing water down their throats. In 2002, Haspel was among the C.I.A. officers present at the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda suspect who was tortured so brutally that at one point he appeared to be dead.

On Thursday, the Trump Administration announced that Haspel would become the C.I.A.’s new deputy director.

It appears that the debate about torture in the President’s mind, if there ever was one, is over."
Jesus! If a country considers itself to be civilized, then torture is not to be tolerated. How did we get into the position once again in which we argue whether or not torture is the way to go? Yes, I know, Bannon/Trump.  Note: Waterboarding is torture.

Will Jefferson Beauregard Sessions stand up to the Bannon/Trump maladministration and say no to the use of torture if he is confirmed as Attorney General? My guess is he will not. He'll be another lackey like Alberto Gonzales who refused to oppose the Cheney/Bush maladministration's torture plan.

Thus far, only the courts have succeeded in putting the brakes on Trump's governance by chaos with executive orders such as the travel ban on people from several majority Muslim countries, and only temporarily.

The Justice Department appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court for a stay to Seattle Federal Judge James Robarts' ruling to halt the implementation of Trump's travel ban.
The Ninth Circuit scheduled the oral argument in the case for Tuesday at 3 p.m. Pacific time. It is to take place by telephone, and the court said it would be live-streamed on its website. Holding an oral argument by telephone in a major case is unusual.

The case will be heard by Judge William C. Canby Jr., appointed by President Jimmy Carter; Judge Michelle T. Friedland, appointed by President Barack Obama; and Judge Richard R. Clifton, appointed by President George W. Bush.
We can but hope that Judge Canby upholds the stay.  (Judge Canby is a real judge, along with Judge Robart, despite Trump's disparaging comment calling Robart a so-called judge.)  However Canby rules, the case will very likely end up with an appeal to the Supreme Court.



GOVERNMENT BY UNCERTAINTY

2017-02-06T09:31:03.975-06:00

The New Orleans Advocate front paged two stories about consequences in Louisiana of Trump's capricious executive orders, a state he won by a large margin.When the gleaming new Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Canal Street opened its doors in November, officials boasted of an army of 2,500 doctors, nurses and support staff who would provide patients with cutting-edge medical care.But a federal hiring freeze instituted in the first days of President Donald Trump’s administration has cast a shadow over plans to fill 1,000 of those positions over the next year.While subsequent orders have loosened some restrictions on the VA — and on its newly opened hospitals in particular — questions persist about how the freeze will affect the wide range of services envisioned at the billion-dollar medical complex, more than 10 years in the making.Trump promised to be a friend to veterans, and, as his policies play out, we see that's not true. It seems hiring of doctors and nurses will continue as planned, but support staff positions will be approved facility by facility.  Even if the hospitals hire more than enough doctors and nurses, no hospital can function without necessary support staff. Did our incompetent president know this before he signed his executive order?  Who knows?  Act first; think later when unintended consequences follow.Also, in today's edition of the Advocate is the article on uncertainty at the Port of New Orleans about consequences of Trump's promise to repeal NAFTA.As far as global trade goes, "America First" may not necessarily mean "Louisiana First."....Reciting a familiar refrain, Trump last week called NAFTA "a catastrophe for our country." His argument is that bad trade deals have shifted American jobs overseas, hitting especially hard in the upper Midwest, where thousands of manufacturing jobs have vanished in recent decades.But if the result of Trump’s policy turn is ultimately a decline in global trade, Louisiana could wind up as collateral damage in the effort to shore up U.S. employment.Louisiana voted for Trump by 58 percent to 38 percent for Clinton, and this is the way he treats his friends.  Our representatives in Congress are all Republicans, except for Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA).  How quickly will our Congressmen (yes, all men) stand up to protect the Louisiana economy, which is already in dreadful shape because of the decline in oil and gas prices?  I'm not holding my breath.Renegotiating NAFTA, the 1994 agreement with Mexico and Canada, might be felt in Louisiana as well. Overall, trade among the three countries has climbed from $293 billion in 1993 to almost $800 billion last year. Mexico and China — another target of Trump’s vitriol on the campaign stump — are Louisiana’s top trade partners.Mexico accounted for nearly $5.9 billion worth of exports from Louisiana in 2015. A 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports — an idea floated by Trump's spokesman last month — could put a huge damper on that trade.Mexico is now the enemy because President Peña Nieto stated he will not pay for Trump's wall on the southern border between the two countries.  Trump is determined to take revenge on leaders of countries he perceives to be his "enemies", even if consequences will be harmful to the citizens of the United States. [...]



TAKE SMALL SATISFACTIONS WHERE YOU FIND THEM

2017-02-05T13:07:39.035-06:00

A White House adviser's commentary about a massacre in Kentucky that never happened has sparked seemingly endless snickering online, with jabs like "never remember" and "I survived the Bowling Green massacre."Kellyanne Conway mentioned the fictional massacre in an MSNBC interview Thursday as the reason for a temporary travel ban for Iraqis in 2011, saying it also proved why the Trump administration's ban was necessary. It thrust this college town back into the national spotlight, nearly three years after a sinkhole that swallowed several classic Corvettes at a museum in Bowling Green garnered worldwide attention.Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said he understands how a person can "misspeak", but what if the same person "misspeaks" over and over?  When do we stop understanding?  Conway "misspoke" again later the same interview when she said Trump's immigration ban of immigrants from several majority Muslim countries was similar to the plan President Obama put in place to slow the vetting of Iraqi refugees in 2011.  Two Iraqis were arrested and charged with trying to send weapons and money to Iraq and helping Al Queda attack Americans in Iraq.  The two were convicted and are now serving prison sentences.For Bowling Green radio personality Jelisa Chatman, Conway's remarks were like a gift from heaven as an on-the-air subject."You wake up in the morning and you think, 'What am I going to talk about today?'" she said. "And God is like, 'Here you go. You need something to talk about, how about this?"Heh heh.At Home Cafe Marketplace, the most popular pizza Friday was "the Bowling Green Massacre" pie. The specialty pizza with blackened chicken, mac' and cheese and jalapenos was on pace to set a one-day sales record at the Bowling Green restaurant, said owner Josh Poling.....All proceeds from the specialty pizza's sales will go to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he said.Bravo, Josh!  I give regularly to the SPLC, but I gave an extra and generous donation after the group quickly filed suit to temporarily halt Trump's travel ban from the seven countries.  The order barred entry even to US citizens with dual citizenship, permanent residents with green cards, and refugees who had already been rigorously vetted and cleared for entry into the US.Many thanks to the many attorneys at airports around the country who volunteer their services to assist people who are detained and interrogated."It's funny and we can laugh at it," said Barry Kaufkins, who teaches at Western Kentucky. "But I think a lot of the laughter is so we don't cry. A lot of people are really worried about some of the rhetoric, not to mention the behavior, from this administration."Indeed. We take our small satisfactions and humor where we find them to take a break from weeping and wailing over the damage the Trump maladministration has done at home and abroad in two short weeks. Spokespersons for Trump say the several court orders from federal judges around the country to stop implementation of the executive order will be appealed.  I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me Trump's tweet could be...um...prejudicial to his appeals, but what do I know?Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump  7h7 hours agoMoreThe opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned![...]



ABOUT THE "BOWLING GREEN MASSACRE"

2017-02-03T13:13:19.512-06:00

On Chris Matthews' show last night, Kellyanne Conway cited the "Bowling Green Massacre" in Kentucky as a reason that Obama put a six month ban on the Iraqi refugee program as an "Obama did it, too" defense of Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries.  Matthews did not follow up and ask Conway about her reference to the "Bowling Green Massacre" that "didn't get covered" during the interview.The "Bowling Green Massacre" never happened, and Matthews might have been able to clarify Conway's statement right then and there if he had stopped her and asked about the massacre, but he did not.  Thanks to Conway and Matthews, the massacre will live on as an alternative fact in certain fevered minds.  Conway later tweeted that she misspoke and meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists", but I'm certain her original reference will have a long life and will continue to be cited by Trump supporters.Also, Obama never put a six months ban on Iraqi refugees.Alex Wagner explains on CBS. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="236" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EUwlJsL9TYk" width="420">Reactions to the "Bowling Green Massacre" on Twitter are hilarious.  Below are two of my favorites:Natasha Rothwell ✔@natasharothwellSaddened and sickened by Frederick Douglass' silence surrounding the Bowling Green Massacre.11:48 PM - 2 Feb 2017Adam Schiff ✔@RepAdamSchiffWhere were you when #BowlingGreenMasacre didn't happen? I was in Stockholm, getting a Nobel Prize. It was awesome. https://twitter.com/CNN/status/827528325363019778 …9:44 AM - 3 Feb 2017[...]



DON'T COME, PLEASE

2017-02-02T10:39:46.057-06:00

Queen Elizabeth is uncomfortable with Trump's state visit to England.It is the British government that invites heads of state on the queen’s behalf, but it is the queen who acts as personal hostess. In most cases, that involves lavish pomp and ceremony and a stay of several days at the queen’s official residence, Buckingham Palace.I ask you, would you want Trump staying in your palace...er...house?  I would not want Trump to visit my humble abode.Theresa May's invitation to Trump for a state visit to London was beyond stupid.  There are petitions against Trump with thousands of signatures, and there will be protests if he goes ahead with plans for the visit.  Trump will be a pariah in England and in many countries around the world.  My guess is Trump will not go.  He lusts for acclamation by crowds, but he fears protests.President Donald Trump will not head to Milwaukee for a previously scheduled visit of a Harley-Davidson factory after the company decided it wasn’t comfortable hosting him amid planned protests, an administration official said Tuesday, January 31st.....Harley-Davidson issued a statement Tuesday night saying they “don’t have, nor did we have, a scheduled visit from the President this week at any of our facilities.”Ha ha!  Who us?  Trump is not coming here.  H/T to Charles Pierce for the link,Trump will not only be a pariah around the world, but he will be unwelcome in many places in the US, because protests will follow him wherever he goes, some large and some small.I still miss Molly Ivins and long for her commentary on present day politics.  You can't make this stuff up.“There are two kinds of humor,” she told People magazine. One was the kind “that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity,” she said. “The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule. That’s what I do.”UPDATE: The number of signatures on the petition protesting Trump's visit is now over a million, and Parliament will take up the matter later this month. UPDATE 2: We can but hope that if Trump's state visit to England takes place, he will not shake hands with the Queen as he did with Neil Gorsuch. width="420" height="236" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hwttrGDyVDs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>[...]



STAYING SANE BY REREADING "1984"

2017-01-31T16:23:17.107-06:00

From the Ministry of Truth:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Yes, I'm rereading 1984.

Winston: He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.

If you're thinking, "She must be crazy," I don't blame you, but in some crazy way it makes sense to me.